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Rory screamed and threw her juice onto Caroline’s new white wash jeans she had paid for herself. Caroline knew what would come next; her little sisters record breaking temper tantrum. As she predicted, garbled words came from the four year olds jelly stained mouth as she kicked and sent her lunch to the car carpet. Caroline tried to wipe off the orange juice while the episode continued but it had been a while since the orange had set in. She sighed and looked out the window to see the ad for The Animal Kingdom, the zoo her family was going to for Rory’s fourth birthday.
Caroline, a mature looking girl with long brown hair to her shoulder blades and critical green eyes, looked nothing like her little sister. Of course Rory was thirteen years younger then her but there was also the fact that the little girl had chubby cheeks versus Caroline’s sharp cheekbones. Rory shown arrogance even at her young age, while Caroline always seemed modest and strong. She was glad she would be out of the house before Rory turned thirteen.
“Rory honey, eat your lunch so you can have cake!” Her mother cooed from the shotgun. She picked up the bottle completely ignoring the spreading wet spot ruining the upholstery and tried to set it in her chubby daughter’s hands. Rory smacked it away and screamed again. Their father Mr. Veron chuckled, turning left into the zoo entrance.
There seemed to be thousands of people who wanted to see animals on a brisk spring morning. Caroline didn’t want to look like a slob when she walked into the highly populated zoo. It was the last thing she wanted today, besides going to the party.
Her mother set her brown eyes on her eldest daughter, and frowned disapprovingly, “Yes?”
She ignored the scathing look and said, “Rory spilled her juice on my new jeans and I can’t get it out with just my hands. Do you or dad have anything I could use?”
“I told you not to get white jeans,” Her mother pursed her lips and eyed Caroline pitifully, “You should have saved that money for college.” And ignored her question by helping Mr. Veron, who gave Caroline a slight apologetic look, get the pouting Rory out of her car seat and left Caroline sitting alone in the car.
She watched her family walking away, even locking the door with her still in it, and slid down the seat so she had a foot on the side window and her head up so she could see through the sky light. Her parents had been giving her the cold shoulder ever since they had went to her school conference and learned if she didn’t try harder she could possibly not make it to college. When her parents had gotten home she didn’t know who had been more furious.
“How could you fail that FST midterm?” Her mother had shrieked, “You and I go over that class every night after dinner. You know all the functions! You even taught me how the statistics work. What was going through your head?”
Mr. Veron, unlike himself, was even worse, “My boss, Mr. Schreiber, was outside the door while your teachers preached. Those walls are like paper, who knows what he heard. His son is going to Yale, and what do I get? A community college bound daughter who can’t even keep a babysitting job after two visits. What’s going to happen after you graduate? You going to decide to become an actress? A lawyer? Tell me.”
Mrs. Veron needed to add, “Your English teacher gave high regards, says you are one of the brightest, but says you’ve been just passing all of your classes the past three years! Is this true?”
Caroline had just looked up at them from the couch they had cornered her on. She couldn’t say anything, if she did or didn’t, they would not listen, they would just make an excuse to keep shouting and deciding she was a failure. That’s what they always did even though she had always tried her best to get the best grades, to be on the honor role. When that failed she gave up, why keep trying if nothing good ever comes from it? That had been years ago, when a ninety five percent on a major test got her phone taken away. When instead they paid in advance for unborn Rory’s crib.
She took a deep breath and opened the car door and stepped warily onto the hot black pavement. The entrance seemed so far away, so draining, she thought of just laying in the car for the next three hours. The abstinence of her iPod and a feeling today could be worthwhile made her start towards the stairs and people.
Caroline got some weird looks at her orange stained pants but she just ignored them though she wanted to run away. Her family was nowhere in sight through the mob of tourists and families. It hurt but why would she expect them to wait, she had at least expected her father too; he was the only one who was still on her side. Feeling depressed already she walked over to the admissions, asked where the party room was, paid for a ticket, and made her way to the ugly looking building.
Inching towards the room, Caroline looked around and saw how at home she felt in the zoo. Its cushy green leaves that seemed to be watered everyday and healthy. All the bright colored signs and people smiling and having a great time. Everything just seemed comfortable and fun, something her life lacked. The happy people made the place shine with content and clarity. She wished she could just walk around the zoo instead of going to Rory’s party, maybe it would lift her mood, but she had no choice. With a slump to her walk, she found the birthday building.
When she entered there were three long white tables in an ironic orange sherbet colored room. There sat three people around a huge cake that should feed forty people, Rory smashing it. Caroline pointedly looked at the empty room; so Rory really didn’t make friends easily in daycare, go figure. At least that was something she had on her little sister.
“Look whose here,” her mother scoffed and waved at the knife over on the empty present table, “Get the knife, we need to cut the cake evenly so Rory’s little friends all get pieces.”
“How many people are we supposed to be getting?” Caroline couldn’t help asking while she gripped the knife over to her mother.
Her mother ignored her but her father caught the exact tone she used, “Caroline Veron! This is your little sisters fourth birthday, she is finally over her terrible twos stage.” He then quickly added, “Though it was hardly terrible to say the least.” And patted down Rory’s hair who suspiciously made a snap at his hand.
Anger pulsed through Caroline’s veins. How could they feel positive emotions towards a monster? Even though she’s four, even though she was their flesh in blood, where did such love, if you could call it that, come from? Why wasn’t it aimed towards her instead, the one who needed it the most when she felt like a dog left abandoned by an owner in a cold hard cell. She felt so dangerously close to being put down and forgotten forever like all the other strays in the world.
Fingers snapped in her face and her father’s leathery face shaped words she couldn’t hear. “Are you listening? Caroline?”
Her mouth didn’t listen to what her instincts were screaming, “Oh no, not terrible at all. I think the words wonderfully horrible does much better, and it will get worse. If she adds any more ‘baby weight’, and she will with the way you added butter into that cake, I have a feeling there will be problems in the future. No prom date, no trips to Las Vegas for her sweet sixteen, possible eating disorder if she actually turns out as dumb as I think she is, and hatred towards you. All of us. She will be miserable just like me.”
With a shocked face her father blanked out and just stared at his oldest daughter, sometimes darting to check on Rory’s expression. Her little sister was now wiping the cake icing all over Mrs. Verons new blue jacket.
Her mother slammed her right hand down like she was trying to smash Caroline as a bug and slightly pulled Rory closer, “What are you saying? Rory’s friends will be here any minute and you better be finished or you will pick up alone after the party.”
“What party?” She almost screamed, four years of neglect leaking out soundlessly, “Stop ignoring Rory’s teachers calls! Take responsibility for Rory’s problems or you are hardly parents-.”
She didn’t get to finish, Mr. Veron stood up as suddenly as Caroline had insulted and let out a deadly whisper, “Get out.” She looked at him, really looked at him to see if there was any chance of regret. There was none, she had lost him. So she obliged.
She ran out of the suffocating room into an unwilling crowd. People shouted out complaints as she shouldered and elbowed her way through the crowd. She had no idea where to go but she just needed to get away. Away from the ambush she flew, thinking of how quickly it took to make her parents so cold, so angry, so loyal to their youngest child. Where had she gone wrong? Where had she stepped over a unforgivable line that exiled her from any admiration or praise?
She ran by the Polar Bear exhibit, her favorite animal, and she let the delayed tears flow. Some people going the right way as she shoved up stream called out to her hesitantly, seeing her distress. She totally disregarded them and kept blindly traveling to the exit of the African section. When she finally passed the sign and found a tree with a little bit of shade, she plopped herself down in the cedar and buried her face into her knees in a sense of finality. She could feel strangers eyes on her, wondering what her deal was, what her story was.
“Hey.” She felt someone nudge her foot and she peaked up through her hair and saw a guy about her age. He had shaggy black hair with light brown piercing eyes and an green Animal Kingdom shirt on. So someone had sent a official to her aid, she thought, how would that help? He wiped his hands on his shorts and took her hand and suddenly pulled her up.
As she looked at him disbelievingly he pointed to a golf cart painted in forest green and bright orange parked next to a bench. Her instincts instantly flared and she looked at him like he was crazy, putting her guard up.
“Are you serious? I don’t go with strangers, thanks.” Though she wanted to sound strong to this alien her voice cracked slightly. When he kept casually pointing, and no families passing looked at the possible kidnapping, she wondered what this world was coming to. She backed slightly, ready to flee if she had too. Sure he looked harmless but that had most likely tricked many other people before her.
Surprisingly, he rolled his eyes, “I was going to take you on a trip. You know, give you a tour around the zoo, show you your favorite animal. It’s even free.” He smiled a simple smile and something told her to go with it. Against her wishes, listening to that something, she nodded and followed him to shot gun.
He started the golf cart with a clean turn and shot forward, “By the way,” He shrugged, “My names Will. What’s yours?”
Automatically, like she had done a million times through her life, she said. “Caroline. Nice to meet you Will.” He smiled and gunned it.
They road to the entrance of the whole zoo to start the tour, like he had promised. He took her to the lions, who looked at her lazily, proudly, and sadly from their small climate. The male lion looked up and stared right at her with regal eyes and she saw what were in them. She gave them a understanding look and they scooted on, her still thinking of what she had seen. They came to the giraffes, elephants, bears, ostriches, rhinos, buffalo, panthers, and they even went through the bird and monkey houses, still on the cart. Through it all she still thought of the lion. But she had to admit she did have fun while Will recited most of the animals names, like a monkeys name was Wally, and gave interesting facts she actually didn’t know. When they came to the aquarium he parked the golf cart and helped her get out.
“Do you want to go in?” He asked. He had asked that before every animal and in the beginning she had thought there was a catch but then realized he was just trying to be nice. She smiled and nodded. He took out a special looking access card and unlocked a different door. He stepped in to the bright room and she stood there, puzzled. Weren’t they going into the aquarium to look at the tiger sharks? He appeared again, patiently but Caroline could tell he really wanted to show her something, whatever that was.
He waved his card and made an apologetic face, “Sorry, first I need to make a stop before I show you the piranhas. Can you come in here and help me with something?” He looked around at the hundreds of people flowing for every direction, “Hurry.”
She had an internal world war inside her during the second she made up her mind. Her brain screamed to walk away with all the news she had been reading, but her heart said there was something in that room, something that could change her life for the better, or for the worst. That something was back again and it was telling her to follow Will into the special room in the back of the aquarium that could only be opened with a special key. So she did.
When she stepped into the room, she was blazed with flashing lights and monitors showing black and white pictures of animals in small cages. She was in the control room, the room that kept the cages locked, the power on, the zoo secure. She looked in awe at all the buttons and knobs they needed to keep the zoo running and the people safe. The boards full of lights went on forever it seemed, and the ceiling was tall enough for a giraffe if it bent its neck slightly. Ladders and many different closets and hooks littered the wall and some kind of plumbing for the aquarium were snaking the walls. Even in the huge room, Caroline thought it should be bigger.
“Like it?” Will asked, grinning and parked in a chair leaning dangerously backwards. He was twirling a chain that held what seemed like thousands of keys and his access card.
No, actually, she didn’t like it. Watching all the animals now she saw how miserable they seemed, how trapped, just like her. When she had met the mighty lions eyes for a split second, she had felt the lions longing to be free, to chase after prey like his kind. She felt a deep connection to all the animals somehow, childishly; the giraffe didn’t seem to have enough room to move its long legs. The monkeys couldn’t swing in their limited skies. The hammerhead shark bumped into the glass once or twice, acting like nothing happened. Even wolf pack seemed sick of each other, stuck forever together, no room to breath. Just like Caroline.
She looked at Will to answer his question and gasped. He wasn’t there; the only thing left to prove his existence were the control keys, just laying there innocently but deadly. All the things someone could do with those keys. She inched forward, her right hand inching towards the chain.
What was she doing? She shook her head mentally and physically and turned her back on the temptation. If she had done what she was thinking there would be huge, colossal, consequences. It was unreal what she was thinking, and when she thought it over the thought evolved to her family. Anger clouded her eyes as she went over not so recent memories. Wanting to try out for varsity basketball and her mother trying to discourage her, until finally when Caroline wouldn’t quit, told her she would fail and left her alone. Her father promising for the year before her sixteenth birthday to teach her how to drive and it hasn’t happened yet. Her mother forgetting her at school after Caroline texted her she had to talk to a teacher, she had had to stand in the rain. Rory born, Caroline forgotten.
Then through her cloud of anger she saw a clipped bird pitifully try to reach the limited sky of its exhibit. It failed before it began and fell from its branch only three feet to the ground, but that was enough for the Caroline. She spun around, rage at her parents, at the zoo, at people who let these things happen all her life, and took the keys in her unstable hands. Caroline locked her eyes on the first keyhole she laid her eyes on, which was covered by a glass protector, and took the biggest key and plugged it in, smashing the glass. She felt like her body was acting alone, her brain screaming for her to stop.
Magically it fit and she twisted it sharply. As soon as she felt the key click the room exploded. Big red lights swirled and lit up the space while sirens sounded in the room and out so she had to cover her ears. She opened her eyes in a squint and saw the TV and screamed. Animals ran with the crowd of people like they belonged there. An elephant was smashing out of its shelter entrance and charging for the opened up gate, two zookeepers desperately pushing at the gate, but it wouldn’t budge. Caroline watched with wide eyes as the aviary exploded with every colored feather and the chimps swung from pine trees to maple. A screen switched to the lion exhibit, which was vacant of people, but full of a pride of lions. The male was in the lead and for a split second she thought she saw the lion smile, and then he roared and Caroline leaped up.
She grabbed the keys, hoping she could use them to solve this whole mess, but she knew it was too late, way too late. No key could get the animals back in their cages. As she saw this she stopped dead, looking up once again at the farthest screen. What seemed like all the people in the zoo where slamming on the gate, desperate to get out. She leaned off the button she had accidently pressed, still staring at the permanently closed gate, the police car lights lighting up the whole parking lot, no inch of black left uncovered. She could even see helicopters coming up from behind the hill and she freaked.
“What have I done?” She kept saying as she searched the board for anything to make it better. Another gate to keep the animals from attacking the trapped tourists. When it was clear there was nothing to forgive what she had done she grabbed the keys and sat on the floor shaking. Nothing was going to make her leave that room, not with her being the one who had done it, not with the carnivorous animals roaming freely. No tears came as she went into full blow shock and rocked back and forth to the rhythm of the sirens. She didn’t dare look up at the monitors and see what she had done.
Then her nose was wet. Still dry sobbing, she brought her hand to her nose and wiped of the liquid. It was water and it smelled like her fish’s bowl. She looked straight up the ceiling, making sure not to look at any screens and searched for where the water came from. The ceiling was leaking and Caroline thought she could hear something creaking. Then she could perceive it all around her and out of the corner of her eye she saw a steady stream of water coming through the wall.
Before the walls and ceiling gave way, Caroline’s gaze found a note tacked to the steady stream of water. Don’t forget a tranquilizer gun, - Will. Then she was surrounded by water filled with tiny tropical fish and weeds up to her knees. She splashed backwards frantically and slammed into a cold metal closet. Now the water and even superior fish where up to her waist. Finally taking notice to Wills message she retched the locker open and saw a wet suit, a camouflaged jacket, and two dart guns at the very top. Now the water was up to her chest and she felt something brush her leg. Biting back a sudden intake of breath, she took both the pieces of clothing and started to jump for the weapons but the water was holding her back.
With the water up to her neck now and glances of silvery scales every few seconds, she used all her strength to step into the closet and smash her shoulder into its wall. One gun fell into the water and with the water to her chin during those few seconds, Caroline’s panic was rising with it. She kept trying for the other but now it was too late, her air was running out. She was forced to take a breath and then she was totally underwater, no air at all. She didn’t dare open her eyes, terrified of what she’d see coming at her, and blindly went toward the direction of the door. On her way her face, arms, and legs kept bumping into fleshy, slimy bodies and she flinched away.
To Caroline she was swimming for an hour, but finally she hit a wall and clung to the coat hangers jutting into her ribs. Her lungs where screaming for air, she felt like someone had set them on fire, and she reached for the doorknob. She found the door handle when something brushed her legs and tore right through the fabric. In the surprise she pushed down on the handle and the door burst open.
Immediately a tidal wave under the water pushed her and whatever else was in it out to the zoo. She was twisted and turned like play dough in the water; she was hit by scaly bodies and some rough. As soon as she had been pushed out she was air born and free from the wave prison, but there was a toll. She fell face down on to drenched cement coated in seaweed and aquarium rocks. It was deathly quiet except for obvious flopping of dying fish and occasional exotic birdcalls. Caroline got up painfully, still with her eyes closed, scared to look at what she had done.
She thought it over. If she could get to the control room or the gun, wherever it had drifted, she could go and get out of here before anyone knew she had been the one who had done it. She rose up in alarm when she thought of the obvious, security cameras. If the zoo was littered with them, the control room was unquestionably covered in them… would the water have done anything to them?
Gingerly crawled on the soaked cement, wincing at her sore body. Caroline still had her eyes closed, denying even now that this had actually happened. Her hands were her guide and as she shoved all kinds of fish out of the way, she let more tears flow. She loved animals and now look what she had done. She felt like she had cried way too much today, and she felt pathetic, but it had also been a really long day. She set her hand down and landed on a cold, metal cylinder that felt cold to the touch just like its nature.
She heard a sigh and her eyes snapped open in shock. She looked up to see no other but Will looking disappointed and amused at the same time. “When I left those keys I thought you would just let out that lion you liked so much, not the whole zoo!”
Caroline streaked up and yelled, “Where did you go? This is all your fault you know! You knew I was unstable, you knew you could mold me to do this horrible, horrible thing. What crazy person leaves an all access key on a chair next to someone they just met, in a control room of a freaking zoo?”
She would have ranted more but he was looking around the ground bored. She didn’t follow his gaze and he noticed.
“Why won’t you accept your actions?” Genuinely puzzled, he brushed his employee shirt and shrugged. “Fine, why don’t we go for a ride and we can see what’s going on around here. It’s quite outrageous around here, oh and don’t forget that capture gun.” And he left her to get the golf cart.
She just stared after him. He was insane, she decided. He had to be insane, if he wasn’t, he would be freaking out just like her. He was the one who had given her the chance to do this, for some peculiar reason. She backed away, wary of his mental state, her soaked shoes squishing noisily in the silent zoo. Caroline turned to run when she saw Will sitting at a picnic table, legs crossed and softly smiling at her.
“Where ya’ going?” He jiggled the keys, “Want to drive?”
“No not really…” she muttered, wondering how he got over there when he had went the opposite direction. He jogged over and interlocked their arms. Caroline instantly stiffened, she didn’t like this guy anymore and she wanted to get away. And she thought he knew it too. He pulled her to the golf cart and she had the same feeling she had had back in the control room. Her body was acting against her brains wishes and she didn’t like it.
The golf cart started with a purr and lazily putted down the walkways. Caroline was surprised at how clean they were, there was no evidence of any wild animals roaming free. Even though there was nothing in sight, that made the place seem even more dangerous and Caroline clung to the tranquilizer gun tighter. Anxiety showed her mind flashes of spotted fur and gray trunks and multicolored feathers. Trees loomed over the two, possibly hiding crouched predators waiting for them to drive closer. Soon Caroline realized the farther they went, the worse it got. Trees and signs pointing to the Monkey House were toppled over and smashed. Trashcans toppled over and the litter scattered, the material ripped to shreds. Waste randomized the roads and abandoned belongings still lay there, except now you couldn’t tell if a purse was an umbrella. When Caroline saw a teddy bear soaking in a puddle, she couldn’t take it any longer and jumped off the golf cart.
“Caroline! What are you doing?” For the first time Will had a face that matched the situation, “Get back on the cart!”
A rib-crushing claw was on Caroline’s chest as soon as he let out the warning. On the ground rare breath wafted around her and she couldn’t breath. She heard popping and crackling and felt excruciating pain growing inside her chest. She gasped and started choking at the same time making a gurgling sound. She heard sounds she couldn’t understand as her eyes started to spot and go black from the rims moving to the middle.
The last thought before she blacked out was that she knew she was going to die. She knew it and she regretted everything she did today. Last week. Last year. Last decade. She wished, even though they didn’t show the same, that she had shown her parents more love. Maybe she could have understood them more. Maybe if she had treated the home bringing of Rory more mature and had been a better sister, none of this would have happened. She wouldn’t be regretting her life, be failing, have no future…
She woke up to water being dumped over her face. Her once dried clothes were now drenched again, and now she was freezing. She shivered and Will, of course the one who had thrown the water, magically draped a towel over her shoulders. She flinched away and kneed over in pain. Her ribs where on fire and it was hard to breath sometimes. She started to hyperventilate in panic. It was all too much.
“A leopard attacked you.” Will spoke up, pointing at the black creature lying on its side. It didn’t move and its eyes were closed. Caroline couldn’t tell if its stomach was lifting.
Wide eyed, and even though it had attacked her, “You killed it?” And then she stopped dead. This person had a gun? Will was carrying a gun? She was paralyzed and wanted to hurry out of there. Why had she accepted his invitation for a tour? She should have listened to her gut, it had been right all along. She realized she had wanted to lope away for quite some time and it terrified her that her body couldn’t, wouldn’t move when the thought flashed through her mind.
He laughed and took out a capture gun that looked exactly like the one next to Caroline, “No, I’m an animal lover, that’s why I took this job.” He grinned and then turned deathly serious. “Caroline you have to listen to me and actually believe me when I demand you this.”
Caroline thought he was having to light of a tone for this circumstance and now he was joking around? And if he was an animal lover, why did he leave the keys? Some people. It didn’t add up at all and now he needed to “tell her something” and “listen up good!” She hesitantly placed her gaze on his brown eyes suspiciously, and a little bit curious.
“Every time you step off the cart, a single animal will attack you and attempt to kill you.” Will alleged seriously, “It’s no joke, just like the condition we are in. I ask one thing, okay, two things. One, you will not on any situations get off that cart once we start driving.”
Caroline really didn’t want to hear the rest. He was loco, he had proven it. She had wanted to deny it but now it was obvious. He. Was. Mental. Crazy like her Aunt Martha. Extreme like her fathers cooking. Wild like the jungle. Mad like the Mad Hatter. Foolish like her. She stood up from her place and trying to mask the seething pain in her sides, marched in no direction at all.
“Two, you will not walk away alone!” Will called but she ignored him. Proud of herself for actually being able to walk out of the invisible fence, she strode down the way to the gate that held all the people. She was also happy she had remembered the tranquilizer gun.
Caroline hiked less confidently as she neared the entrance of the zoo and saw as many uniforms as there were tourists. News Anchors were in the sky and roaming the field, asking anyone who would answer what it had been like. People were crying and holding their children in their arms. What was more depressing and bitter to Caroline was all kinds of sedated animals dotting the ground in between all the people. One family was reconciling like there wasn’t a sleeping or paralyzed zebra and ostrich on either side of them. Helicopters towered over the zoo on the small hills lining the entrance. Against her wishes, she looked for her family. She didn’t see any of them and she was worried. Had the lion she had had that small moment with taken them out? Had they been trapped inside the ugly building and met their end. Caroline didn’t want to think about it and she broke down in tears.
She didn’t have time to lose herself in her emotions because what seemed like ten policemen had surrounded her and looked even scarier then a bulldog. “Come with me.” They must have seen the security cameras somehow, she thought to herself and groaned. At least this was all over and she could just get back to normal people again.
Another policeman started to push her towards a police car but when he grazed her ribs she cried out and fell to the ground in pain. Somehow the pain had gotten worse. As Caroline had kept walking, overlooking the pain as much as she could, it had disappeared with every step. Now it was back and worse, and didn’t seem to want to go away.
“She’s hurt,” the officer stated the obvious and called for a stretcher. “Ben said it would be a minute, they had to send out for more EMT’s.” Caroline moaned.
They had to wait for more than a minute, but the stretcher finally came and they carted her off to a ambulance. Once she was inside, two policeman climbed in and started asking her questions as she was wrapped up.
“Where were you when the animals escaped?” One interrogated.
The other cut in, “Do you know anything about who did this? Why?”
“The person who did this is going to prison for life, maybe two.”
“Do you know anything about the control room?”
Before Caroline could break, the doors flew open and there stood a stout policeman with a turned up nose. “We found another.” He puffed and disappeared again. The policemen gave her looks that said they’d be back for her and followed their fellow uniform.
Caroline relaxed and stared up at the white ceiling of the car. So this was her last moments of freedom before they took her away. Ah, what a peaceful moment, no nagging about grades, no disappointing glares. With that she wished with all her heart she could see her parents again. At first she had wanted them to disappear forever and leave her alone, and now that they had she had remorse for her decision deeply. Sure they had been awful, but so had she. She was definitely not the model daughter. She recalled buried times when she had started up fights with her mom over nothing because she was stressed. Or dismissed her father with a cold look when he had happily said good morning while she had felt horrible. Left Rory alone when she was babysitting her and locked herself in her room. She hadn’t been a someone she liked for a long time. But now, if she could still have her parents, even her little sister, she promised herself she would be a better person.
Caroline couldn’t move or she’d break something else but she did shout, “Dad? Mom? Rory?”
“Yes sweetheart,” Mrs. Veron uncharacteristically jumped into the ambulance and kissed her sweaty forehead. The when her mother saw tears in her daughters eyes she burst out crying too and covered Caroline’s body. Mr. Veron was holding Rory and he had tears in his eyes too. His suit had rips the shape of beaks in his suit. Caroline’s little sister was quiet for once in her life. Her small eyes stared at her big sister and Caroline felt guilt rise up in her again. Four the four year olds birthday, she had given her a bruise on her cheek. Caroline would make it up to her by being the best big sister she could. She hugged her mother back, not needing any tears to show her feelings.
There was a clearing of the throat and the family turned to see five policeman holding a boy in a green t-shirt. The boy had black hair that was wet and covered in mud like he had been fighting on the ground, and handcuffs glittered around his wrists. He winked at Caroline.
“Sorry.” A policeman apologized to Caroline and roughly pulled Will away.